Snacking

Lite Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I fully intended on blogging tonight about my failed recipe disaster, minus an oven fire. You see, any creation that comes out of a kitchen with two wild animals roaming freely is bound to end in disaster, eventually, if not regularly. I regularly mess things up in the kitchen when I’m cooking / baking, mostly because I’m half responding to the random MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM questions buzzing in my ear. The point is not to dwell on it, then just eat it or throw it out and move on…to McDonalds.

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Fortunately, luck was on our side tonight. We were multitasking ninjas and decided it was a splendid time to whip up a lighter version of our favorite Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, among other things. The recipe below is what we made. It looks soupy so make sure you have a drip pan below your 9 x 13 baking dish, and let it set up /cool after you’re done baking it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Filling

  • 8 cups chopped rhubarb; I used 6 stalks and have no idea how many cups that came out to be, but it wasn’t a lot.
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pound strawberries; I used about 8 cups of strawberries since I was short on rhubarb. The point is, just use up all your strawberries, fill your baking pan 3/4 full with berries and rhubarb. This does not have to be exact science.
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (I didn’t tonight since I did not have a lemon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Topping

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp, not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups quick oats / rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. in a large bowl, combine all of the “filling” ingredients and combine well.
  3. Pour the “filling” into the baking dish and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, combine the “topping” and mix well with your hands. It should be a little clumpy, no need for a pastry blender. Clumps will bake out.
  5. Sprinkle evenly the “topping” over the “filling” and put into oven.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, check on it.
  7. Bake for additional 10 minutes or until oats are slightly browning and the juices are bubbling on the sides of the crust.
  8. Be sure to bake with a lined + rimmed drip pan under neath.
  9. Enjoy!
  10. Serve with whip cream, ice cream and mint leaf!

*This recipe uses 2 cups less sugar and 1/4 cup less flour and + 1 cup additional oats than the original recipe. It’s much less cake like, and has more oats for fiber.

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Enjoy strawberry season! It’s short, so google your nearest farm, and get out there! It’s so fun. If you don’t have time to use them all up, rinse, hull and freeze in zip top bags for a month.  Or put them into zip top snack size bags for lunches and freeze; half frozen berries are the best snack in the summer (also makes it easy for morning smoothies if they are pre-portioned).

Mom Things, Travel

Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison, WI

June, the beginning of summer in the mid-west and it is always a busy month in our household. It’s usually the last week of school, followed by the beginning of pool season, backyard play times, neighborly hangouts and the one big event I still help plan, Olbrich Garden’s Rhapsody in Bloom! This fundraiser is important since it helps keep the gardens fee for the public to enjoy. Yes, Olbrich is amazing + gorgeous + free!

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What is Olbrich Gardens?! It is a botanical garden that sprawls 16 acres with an array of paths and stone trails to stroll. It is host to the only Thai Pavilion in North America, which was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. UW-Madison has one of the largest Thai student populations of any U.S. college or university. Olbrich is continuously voted #1 on Trip Advisor for being the #1 attraction in Madison, WI. It overlooks beautiful Lake Monona + is directly across from the new Olbrich Bier Garten.

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Olbrich has brought me peace and happiness on some of my hardest days. It is home to some of my favorite memories of my family; from picnics on the great lawn to the train show + blooming butterflies, Olbrich has been my place to go from reflection to celebration. Over the past 10 years, I have really gotten to know this place and the people that make it so beautiful. It really does take a village to maintain this luscious space, and they work extra hard in June to make sure the gardens are in tip-top shape for this grand reveal of the Rhapsody in Bloom. This event is held anually and is the PEAK of the garden blooming. Breathtaking is probably the most accurate word used to describe its beauty.

This year’s event was held on June 16 (the hottest day of the year so far in WI) and the theme was Ebb & Flow.  It was a water / nautical twist that incorporated mermaids through out the gardens, motorboat races, steel drums, games, themed cocktails & amazing catering from the delicious and well-known Underground Food Collective. The presentation of the food was gorgeous; from the taste to display, Underground nailed it.

While I did not confirm nut-free options for food allergies since my daughter was not attending (its adults only), we did not have nuts in any of the main dishes. There were many gluten free options as well, making this event + catering “allergy friendly” and easy for many to enjoy.

I’m so grateful for Olbrich and this hidden gem we have here in Madison. If you haven’t visited Olbrich yet, put it on your list. Even in winter, the Conservatory is open and helps with those winter blues! What a wonderful event – I’m excited to see what next year’s theme will be!

 

Mom Things, Travel

The New Ikea – Oak Creek, WI

If you’re looking for an impressive Ikea experience, the new Ikea in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is well worth your drive. Not only was this store extremely well organized (traffic + parking wise), the customer service and assistance in almost every aisle was very much appreciated. We didn’t know the layout of this new store, so having help available was key to making our shopping trip effective and timely (we live 2 hours away). Somehow, my list grew while I was shopping and I needed help getting a few heavy items off the shelves + into my car.  The employees at this specific store were over the top amazing when it came to helping me with exactly I was looking for. The store has a special place in my heart since it’s located in my hometown!

Willow Heights subdivision is where I grew up, it’s located off of Puetz and 13th street in Oak Creek. It is conveniently located just 15 minutes from downtown Milwaukee.  The new Ikea is now within biking distance from my childhood home. How cool is that?! Perfect for Ikea lovers!

My love for Ikea really began when I was in High School and preparing for college.  Having the coolest dorm was our goal, so my best friend and I shopped until we dropped at Ikea in Schaumburg, Illinois (the closest Ikea to us at the time).  Keep in mind, this is before high speed internet, smart phones, shopping apps, and the ability to view store inventory / order online quickly.  So shopping in person was basically the ONLY way to shop in 2001. This took a lot of TIME.  My best friend and I spent an entire day shopping and all of $50 each to get our dorm set up. We felt so cool. Such a good deal on cool things to make our dorm perfect.

This week, as I prepare for the annual Rhapsody in Bloom fundraiser at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Ikea seemed to be the perfect place to shop for the silent auction baskets that I’m working on.  And it was. I took my little guy, Carter (4), with me to scope out the new Ikea Oak Creek store, to visit my old neighborhood and build out some gorgeous baskets for a good cause.

Check out my first silent auction item, Two for Tea. It features:

You can bid on this item online from Olbrich’s website + online bidding system, Gesture.

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My needs from Ikea have changed over the last 20 years. From dorm room decor to fundraising swag and I’m happy that Ikea has always been my number one low-cost option since it’s classic and cool.

Stay tuned – this week I’m working on building out silent auction baskets and I’ll be posting some more photos here on nutfreemomblog.

For the nut-free component of my Ikea visit, PLEASE try the Swedish Meatballs! You can purchase them in the store at the restaurant or in the freezer section at the check-out. They are nut free and have a great allergy statement. The sauce is sold separately and is also nut free. I’ll make a separate post when I prepare them. Because you KNOW I bought some to bring home 🙂

 

 

 

 

Snacking, Weeknight Dinners

Meal Inspo 4/16/18

Looking for some quick meal inspiration? We’ve had a ton of extra activities at school, and outside of school, that has required us to think super ninja fast for meal times.

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Actually, now that I think of it, making meals at home is REALLY hard. It requires some serious dedication to plan, purchase, cook, serve, and clean up!

Our grocery bill this week was only $98 since we’re trying really hard to eat leftovers, only buy what we eat, and make the most out of what we have. Week after week, I throw away so much away because we just do not eat them or have the time to make all the glorious things I dream up each week.

Today, my list was super small. What is great is that the meal we made today will last us all week. Planning to eat the leftovers is my new goal. If we run low on something, guess what?! Just pick something up – there are grocery stores all over the place. Trying not to over purchase at the grocery store is hard. Super hard. The displays get me EVERY time. Especially if there is a healthy element to it. Hard to resist.

Tonight’s meal is my favorite staple, pulled pork! It’s not fancy, everyone loves it and best of all, I DON’T HAVE TO COOK. My slow cooker does all the work and makes the house smell good. Clean up is a breeze, put the cover on the slow cooker pot and put it back in the fridge. I’ve posted on here before about a few different versions of pulled pork, so pick whichever floats your boat:

  1. Lighter Pulled Pork with McCormick pre-mix
  2. Campbell’s Soup Apple Bourbon Pulled Pork Mix

Our grocery store had a huge sale on Pretzilla Pretzel rolls today, 2 for $5, so we purchased one hamburger size and one hot dog size. We used the hamburger size tonight to make our BBQ Pork Sandwiches. The hot dog size are for later in the week when we use applegate organic nitrate free hot dogs from Whole Foods. Most grocery stores carry Pretzilla – they have a dedicated nut-free facility that we LOVE. And they taste AMAZING!

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When in doubt, just whip up some avocado toast + sesame seeds. Eat to survive. Not the other way around.

Enjoy your week! It is finally nice enough to be outside without winter coats on!!!

Holiday Favorites

Nut Free Thanksgiving Menu

Jumping into leaf piles!
Jumping into leaf piles! We love fall!

Tradition gives us hope and happiness, and while I know it won’t be the same this year without my husband’s Mom here (we miss her so much already), we are going to try to incorporate some of our usual traditions to help carry us through to a new beginning and happier 2018. Especially for the kids. They need this the most, to see how we persevere in light of adversity.

For thanksgiving this year, we’re going to use the staples most of us have had, sans the nuts, as per usual, except the one cooking in the kitchen! Here’s what we are thinking.

  1.  Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing, call Whole Foods and have the entire thing catered because 2017 has sucked out loud. Click: Whole Foods Holiday Meals
  2. Welp, if you’re the go-geter kind and Pinterest pressured (so me, see: Bad Mom’s + Bad Mom’s Christmas) into making the whole damn thing, these are some helpful links that we’ve used in the past.
    1. Do order your Turkey from Whole Foods – they have the BEST tasting turkeys, this is where my mom usually orders hers from. This year we’re smoking the turkey using this technique Smoked Turkey Recipe
    2. Green Bean Casserole
    3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts
    4. Cranberry Sauce
    5. 12 Minute Mashed Potatoes
    6. Allergy Free Stuffing
    7. Canned Chilled Cranberry (IS THE BEST)
    8. Mushroom Gravy (V/GF/PN/TN Free)
    9. Roasted Acorn Squash
    10. Stuffing (GF) Alternative
    11. Apple Pie
    12. Pumpkin Pie w/ King Arthur Nut Free Flour
    13. Rhodes Bake N Serv Dinner Rolls Nut Free
    14. Seghesio Wine
    15. Chocolate Milk (Nut Free / GF)
  3. Don’t forget the relish trays. If you’re in Wisconsin, you know there has to be cheese, crackers and sausage. And pickles and olives. And possibly a small veggie tray.
  4. Lastly, tablescaping is uber important. Pretty Natural Table

There you have it – our Thanksgiving meal in a nutshell. Don’t forget the Egg Nog, and to turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to get everyone in the holiday spirit.  As always, we will be double checking all of the labels on the above items, even though I’m 99.9% sure they are all OK since we use them frequently. My favorite part is the pie – and watching everyone around the table laughing and having a good time.  What’s yours? I hope wherever you are, you have a wonderful holiday week surrounded by the ones you love the most.

Happy start to the Holidays!

xoxo